Home construction has not kept pace with population growth over the past 20 years. Last year, 912,000 single-family homes were built, according to building permit data from the US Census. The US population grew by more than 3 million people in that time. Since 2006, home construction has decreased by 55% nationwide.
Prior to the Great Recession, the ratio of new population to home construction was about 2:1, meaning two people were added to the population for every new home built. That ratio increased to 5:1 after home construction dropped more than 50% after 2007. The US hit the lowest point for home construction in the past two decades in 2011, with 483,000 homes built that year.
After hitting bottom, the pace of home construction increased each year through 2020. Meanwhile, population growth decreased by almost 50% in the past five years. The decrease puts housing construction the closest it’s been to population growth in the past 20 years.
The South and West regions, where population is on the rise, had the past decade’s biggest housing construction increases. Population grew by about 10% in the South, the most of any region, according to the US Census Bureau. Of the top 10 metro areas with the most housing construction, seven are in the South. More than half of all new homes built in the US in the last decade were constructed in the region. Texas contains three of the top metro areas for housing growth and gained the most residents, almost 4 million people in 10 years.
The West’s population increased by about 9% over that same time. Los Angeles and Phoenix rank in the top 10 metro areas for housing construction. California, Arizona, and Washington were among the top states for new home building permits in 2020.
New home construction dropped by 50% in the Northeast and 54% in the Midwest over the past two decades. The construction trend aligns with slower population growth in these states. All the Northeast states were below the national average for percent population increase. In the Midwest, Illinois was one of three states that lost population over the last decade, down 18,000 people since 2010.
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